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  1. Technology
August 25, 1998


By CBR Staff Writer

On September 25, IBM will ship the next release of OS/390, its strategic, MVS-derived mainframe operating system. The new release, 2.6, follows close on the heels of release 2.5, which shipped earlier this year and included many internet and TCP/IP enhancements. Many of the enhancements in release 2.6 are aimed at several of IBM’s marketing initiatives – business intelligence, server consolidation and e-business – the new IBM mantras for what most of us would simply call commercial data processing. However it is also continuing its drive to bring OS/390 up to speed with Unix in regards to internet functions with the newest release and will continue the process with release 2.7, which is due to ship in late March next year. Release 2.6 includes software to support 64-bit IEEE floating point processing, the hardware for which was added to the G5 CMOS mainframes that are just now starting to ship to customers. The new JVM environment for OS/390 that will be available at the end of 1998 is, like many C/C++ applications, heavily dependent on fast number crunching, and the IEEE FP support will significantly speed up Java applications. The new release also includes support for the Fast Ethernet protocol, which is used in conjunction with a new S/390 Open Systems Adapter LAN card, OSA-2. The new OSA card also has IP multicast support to help reduce network congestion and, with Novell Network Services for OS/390, can now attach to IPX clients and servers. In both cases, these enhancements help further IBM’s server consolidation cause, whereby users of NT, Unix and NetWare servers are being convinced to backwards port their print and file serving workloads to their centralized mainframes to better manage them. Release 2.6 will also eventually include support for Novell Directory Services, although exactly how and when this support will be added remains unclear. To help better make its server consolidation case, IBM has also added performance enhancements to OS/390s TCP/IP stack, and has also improved the DFSMS/MVS Network File System, which it now calls OS/390 NFS. The improved NFS clone software includes support for Sun Microsystems’ NFS Version 2 and Version 3 protocols; it also allows either TCP or UDP protocols to be used as the main transport for NFS. OS/390 NFS also includes the Sun NFS V2 and V3 extensions necessary to support the emerging WebNFS distributed file system.

By Timothy Prickett Morgan

OS/390 release 2.6 also includes IBM’s WebSphere Application Server (WAS), which is a set of middleware that IBM developed for its Nagano Olympics web site. The WebSphere Application Server brand name has been, somewhat confusingly, been given to the Lotus Domino Go web server program as well, which is actually just IBM’s Internet Connection Server renamed. WebSphere Application Server, which is available for NT, Solaris and AIX, rides on top of a standard web server and allows it to coordinate the efforts of many servers to field web hits on the internet or on an intranet; WebSphere also includes framework that allows server-side Java applets, which IBM calls servlets, to function like C++ or Perl CGI scripts to allow web browsers to call web applications residing on the WAS server as well as legacy applications. For the moment, IBM is offering WebSphere in conjunction with Domino Go, but by year’s end IBM is expected to offer the open systems Apache server to its OS/390-WebSphere customers. Both web servers are being provided free of charge to S/390 customers, and will also be offered for free to AS/400 customers by the end of the year. IBM is promising enhancements in OS/390 2.7 that will double the Web serving performance of S/390s, and that is undoubtedly the switch from the Domino Go web server to Apache underneath WAS. So far, the WebSphere Performance Pack extension to WAS, which provided sophisticated, class-of-service web request routing and load balancing across firewalls, will only be available for NT, Unix and Solaris. For those few customers who want to use OS/390’s Unix environment, and those dozens of application software developers who IBM wants to port their code to its mainframes, IBM has added an automated Unix system option, which is available at an additional cost, that provides a Unix shell that actually looks like Unix, not MVS, and which will require no MVS skills to install and maintain. With OS/390 2.7, IBM will replace the SystemView for MVS base version 1.1 system management software that has been integrated with OS/390 from the start with the Tivoli Management Agent. The goal, as usual, is to enable an IBM mainframe to manage a whole distributed, heterogeneous network of servers. IBM also plans to enhance the eNetwork Communications Server for OS/390 Triple DES encryption and SNMPv3. IBM also plans for this release to include yet more TCP/IP performance improvements, enabled by what IBM is calling Sysplex Sockets, which will make use of parallel sysplex clustering to manage and distribute TCP/IP workloads across the servers in a complex. The Communications Server will also apparently have a new technology IBM is calling Fast Response Cache Accelerator, which IBM says will extend the S/390’s lead as the e-business server of choice. (What it does is unclear, as is IBM’s evidence that its S/390s are, in fact, the e-business servers of choice.) Last but not least, between releases 2.6 and 2.7, IBM will add Euro sign support, which will also be available with a patch to all OS/390 users as well as MVS 5.2 customers.

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